Jamie Donaldson Seeks to Repeat in the 2009 "Badwater Ultramarathon"

Jamie Donaldson

by Dr. Stephen Walker, CC-AASP

Planet Earth’s Undisputed “Toughest Road Race”

What do you call a 135 mile long road race with a gain of 13,000 vertical feet that spans  three mountain ranges in mid-summer Death Valley temperatures exceeding 130 degrees Farenheit?  You call it the AdventureCORPS’  “Badwater Ultramarathon” – thats what!  So grueling is this race, there is no other like it.  AdventureCORPS would know.  They sponsor some of the gnarliest adventure races on the planet….including Primal Quest….but nothing tops this.

Beginning at 285 feet below sea level in Death Valley, this race culminates at the Mount Whitney Portal (elevation 8,360 ft.)  Runners pass through Mushroom Rock, Furnace Creek, Salt Creek, Devil’s Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Stovepipe Wells, Keeler and Lone Pine on their way to Mount Whitney – which Jamie Donalson plans on summitting with her support team after the measly race is over.   The ‘Badwater will feature 88 runners from 17 countries who vie for their coveted ‘Badwater Beltbuckle’ – awarded to runners who complete the race in under 48 hours.

To be challenged and to succeed is the order of the day for Jamie Donaldson and her crew.  And succeed she did last July when she bested the field by an amazing finish in 26 hours 51 minutes and 33 seconds (breaking the previous women’s record by well over an hour.  She didn’t stop to sleep even once. The men’s course record is held by Valmir Nunez of Brazil with a time of 22:51:29 set in 2007.

Donaldson is an unassuming sweet pixie from Littleton, Colorado who works professionally as a middle school math teacher and cross country coach.  Go figure.  I didn’t ask her if nails are part of her nutrition plan for the race, but it wouldn’t surprise me.  This girl shows incredible mettle and great heart as she gives so much credit to her fabulous support team.  Training at roughly 200 miles per week and spending literally hours in the sauna – Donaldson prepares seriously for the Badwater, and the hard work has definitely paid off.  Her training was physical, nutritional, and mental – and the conditioning was remarkably spiritual as well.  Jamie and her husband Dave give us all a great sense of what it really means to be Team Donaldson.  Don’t miss this Podcast.  It will educate you as to the serious world of ultramarathons and the incredible dedication required to move beyond survival to thriving on the simplest of mantras “I’m almost there.”  Jamie is a champion and she gives us all a sense as to what we can do ourselves to nurture the champion within each and every one of us.

Watch out for it coming up because the 2009 version begins next week (July 13th.)  Jamie Donaldson will do her best to repeat and break her own record as she vies  for back to back victories. To check out a snipit of the Badwater – check out this piece from YouTube:



Podium Sports Journal had the distinct priviledge of interviewing Jamie Donaldson after last year’s victory.  For an amazing Podcast which recounts her training regimen, support team and the incredible challenges she overcame in both 2007 and 2008, click here:



This is an interview and Podcast you won’t want to miss.  Jamie Donaldson rewrites the definition of mental toughness and demonstrates expertise at every core competency PSJl has ever written about.

Go Jamie!  You CAN DO IT AGAIN!

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